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Title: Emerging infectious disease implications of invasive mammalian species: the greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula) is associated with a novel serovar of pathogenic Leptospira in Ireland

item Nally, Jarlath
item Bayles, Darrell
item Hornsby, Richard
item ARENT, ZBIGNIEW - Agricultural University Of Poland
item GILMORE, COLM - Agri-Food And Biosciences Institute
item REGAN, SIOBHAN - University College Dublin
item MCDEVITT, ALLAN - University Of Salford
item YEARSLEY, JON - University College Dublin
item FANNING, SEAMUS - University College Dublin
item MCMAHON, BARRY - University College Dublin

Submitted to: PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/8/2016
Publication Date: 12/9/2016
Citation: Nally, J.E., Bayles, D.O., Hornsby, R.L., Arent, Z., Gilmore, C., Regan, S., McDevitt, A.D., Yearsley, J., Fanning, S., McMahon, B.J. 2016. Emerging infectious disease implications of invasive mammalian species: the greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula) is associated with a novel serovar of pathogenic Leptospira in Ireland. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 10(12):e0005174.

Interpretive Summary: Pathogenic species of Leptospira cause leptospirosis, a global disease that is transmitted from animals to humans. Leptospires survive in the kidney of domestic and wild animal species and are excreted via urine. Contact with infected urine, or water contaminated with infected urine, can result in disease since pathogenic leptospires can penetrate mucosal surfaces and skin lesions. In this study, we cultured leptospires from a mammal that was first introduced into Ireland in 2007, the great white toothed shrew (GWTS). The cultured isolates were novel in that they belong to a species of Leptospira that has never before been cultured in Western Europe. These results highlight the need for continued surveillance of wildlife species for pathogenic leptospires. Results also provide new strains of Leptospira that can be used diagnostic purposes in domestic animal species. Data presented in this manuscript will be of interest to scientists working with spirochetes and public health officials.

Technical Abstract: The greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula) is an invasive mammalian species that was first recorded in Ireland in 2007. It currently occupies an area of approximately 7,600 km2 on the island. C. russula is normally distributed in Northern Africa and Western Europe, and was previously absent from the British Isles. Whilst invasive species can have dramatic and rapid impacts on faunal and floral communities, they may also be carriers of pathogens facilitating disease transmission in potentially naive populations. Pathogenic leptospires are endemic in Ireland and a significant cause of human and animal disease. From 18 trapped C. russula, 3 isolates of Leptospira were cultured. However, typing of these isolates by standard serological reference methods was negative, and suggested an, as yet, unidentified serovar. Sequence analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA and secY genes indicated that these novel isolates belong to Leptospira alstonii, a unique pathogenic species of which only 7 isolates have been described to date. Earlier isolations were limited geographically to China, Japan and Malaysia, and this leptospiral species had not previously been cultured from mammals. Restriction enzyme analysis (REA) further confirms the novelty of these strains since no similar patterns were observed with a reference database of leptospires. As with other pathogenic Leptospira species, these isolates contain lipL32 and do not grow in the presence of 8-azagunaine; however no evidence of disease was apparent after experimental infection of hamsters. These isolates are genetically related to L. alstonii but have a novel REA pattern; they represent a new serovar which we designate as serovar Room22. This study demonstrates that invasive mammalian species act as bridge vectors of novel zoonotic pathogens such as Leptospira.